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New Mexico's film business gets a lift from 'The Avengers'

December 23, 2010 | 10:30 am

Score one for New Mexico, California's arch-rival for film production.

In one of his last acts as New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson announced that the state's film industry he has long championed has landed its biggest catch: the superhero comic book movie "The Avengers."

"I'm announcing this as a Christmas present of sorts to the people of New Mexico,''  Richardson said in a statement. "This is a perfect example of the incredible job creation, economic impact and global visibility this industry has brought our state over the past eight years, and of the need to keep it moving forward."

Walt Disney co-owned Marvel Studios said it would begin shooting the movie, directed and written by Joss Whedon and featuring a raft of stars including Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, in April at the Albuquerque Studios.  Part of the film also will be shot in New York and Michigan.

With an estimated budget exceeding $200 million, the film is the biggest film ever to shoot in New Mexico, which also has hosted such movies as "Terminator Salvation" and "In the Valley of Elah."

The project comes at a welcome time for New Mexico, which faces growing competition from more than 40 states that offer tax credits and rebates to filmmakers. New Mexico offers a 25% production rebate to filmmakers, which is stronger than California's film tax credit (which excludes moves costing more than $75 million), but is less generous than what some other states such as Michigan offer.

It's not clear whether Southern California, where Marvel shot the "Iron Man" movies, was considered for the film. But Marvel selected New Mexico for several reasons, including its film rebate, close proximity to Los Angeles, diverse landscape and the fact that the studio had a good experience filming another movie there, "Thor."

"We had a terrific experience shooting portions of "Thor" in the Land of Enchantment and we are looking forward to making New Mexico even more of a home on our next production,'' said Louis D'Esposito, co-president of Marvel Studios.

-- Richard Verrier

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